Jeffrey LewisNorth Korea … after further review

Paul is right; Chuck Kartman is talking about North Korea’s ability to reprocess Pu during the pre-1994 period. As for the post-2002 period (when North Korea may have reprocessed 8,000 spent fuel rods frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework).

In reference to the post-2002 period, Kartman warned the European Parliament (in April 2004) that “I feel very confident that their plutonium programme is now in full operation and it’s one that can produce almost unlimited quantities of nuclear weapons.”

CBS ran this misleading paragraph:

On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said North Korea possessed “four to seven” nuclear weapons. But Charles Kartman — executive director of the New York-based Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, or KEDO — said North Korea may have only a single nuclear weapon and there is no proof that it has actually produced any.

The two sentences are comparing apples and oranges (Kerry talking about post-2002 estimates, Kartman about pre-1994 efforts).

Kartman’s point (that North Korea could have produced at most one and perhaps zero nuclear weapons during the pre-1994 period) highlights Kerry’s argument that the Clinton Administration met the danger from North Korea’s nuclear weapons. That danger increased after Bush took office and collapsed the 1994 Agreed Framework, leaving North Korea to “produce almost unlimited quantities of nuclear weapons.”

[Side note: Kartman also says, of the pre-1994 period, that “You’re not going to get too many responsible scientists going along with the number two.” This is a period during which ol’ Don Rumsfeld asserted “North Korea possessed enough plutonium to produce two to three, maybe even four to five nuclear warheads.” Responsibility isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind when talking about Rumsfeld, is it?]